Cornerstone EPC Sunday morning
Franklin, NC 28734 April 19, 2020
“Why These Are Written”
We come once again to worship—once again via podcast—in celebratory mode, for Jesus is risen. Perhaps this should be true every week. After all, Jesus remains risen every week, and worship is a celebration of Who God is and what He does. There will be times when our celebration seemingly knows no bounds, but there will be other times when lifting our praise to the Lord will be heavy labor indeed. In either providential case this morning—plus everywhere in between—may the Lord enhance our celebration of Him, and our joy in Him, as we hear the clearest purpose statement for a book in all the Bible. Give ear with me once again to the written Word of life.
(HERE READ THE TEXT)
The Apostle John, led by the Holy Spirit, writes immediately after his account of Thomas’s belief in the resurrected Jesus, “Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book.” John writes at the very end of his Spirit-led gospel, of Jesus’ deeds, “Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written” (John 21:25). The signs that the Spirit led John to record are seven—or eight, if the Resurrection itself be counted. These John records to a grand two-fold purpose; let’s examine that purpose in fuller detail now.
These signs—these miracles to a purpose—John writes at the Spirit’s leading in order that we believe on Jesus Christ as Lord as Savior. In particular, John urges through the evidence of these signs, that we may believe that Jesus is the Christ. We are to believe that Jesus is the Anointed One, the Messiah, the One long-foretold and long-promised in the Old Testament. There was to be, in God’s good providence, a decisive intervention by God, in the form of a Deliverer, in behalf of His people. Jesus is that promised One, and the Spirit, through John, would have us know it.
John’s narrative also would let us know that Jesus, the Christ, is the Son of God. John marshals the evidence of what Jesus does before us, and he leads us to the inescapable conclusion that none can do what He does. None can turn water into wine, walk on water, heal the sick, and raise the dead as can—and did. Hence, He is no ordinary man. None share the constitution of His unique Person. He is fully man, to be sure—born of Mary and living in this world with its attendant pains pursuant to the fall of mankind in the Garden of Eden. Jesus is fully God as well, having the Father Himself, via the Holy Spirit, as His Father. Hence, Jesus, being fully man, identifies with us to the uttermost—even to the bearing of our sins to dark Calvary. Jesus, being fully God, can redeem and preserve safe to the uttermost those who trust in Him.
John notes next that, by believing in Jesus as the Christ, the Son of God, we may have life in His Name. Belief involves two fundamental aspects. It involves both cognitive assent to Gospel facts and volitional (i. e., with the will) trust. With our minds we conclude, by the Spirit’s good work, that the claims that Scripture makes are true, not false. Furthermore, with our wills we believe Jesus’ promises, and with our wills we walk away from sin, self, and the like, to walk with Jesus in faith and in obedient discipleship. This is belief in Christ, and this belief leads to life.
Life, as often noted here at Cornerstone EPC, has two dimensions. First, it is abundant. Jesus said, of Himself versus the evil one, the thief, “The thief comes but for to steal and to kill and to destroy. I am come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (or more abundantly, John 10:10). The abundant life that Jesus gives implies a quality of life impossible apart from Jesus. This life is not equivalent to what some call the good life or the American Dream—though there may be some overlap. It brings God’s good gifts—His love, joy, peace, and the like (cf. Galatians 5:22-23)—to bear upon our lives and to flourish from deep within us, and it perseveres when external events are not favorable. The good life is no longer good when events turn south, and the American Dream becomes a nightmare when its constituent elements flee. No matter our external circumstance, the abundant life in Christ ever grows—and that life may grow best under foul external circumstance.
Life in Jesus’ Name is also eternal. From Jesus’ own lips, recorded by John’s pen, we have such precious promises as whoever believes in Jesus shall not perish, but have eternal life (John 3:16), the one living and believing in Jesus will never die (John 11:26), and the one keeping Jesus’ Word—and that empowered solely by faith in Him—never tastes death (John 8:51). It is hard for us, finite by divine fiat, to comprehend eternity. Yet God has set eternity in the hearts of people (Ecclesiastes 3:11), and he promises eternal, abundant life to those who place faith in His Son, Jesus Christ.
Now we know why the Holy Spirit led John to write as He did. He wanted us to know that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God—and He wanted us to know that, by believing, we may have life in Jesus’ Name. Two questions remain, and then we conclude for this day. First, would you have this life? If you are aware this day—perhaps uncomfortably—that you have not had this life, then cry out to God for it. Cry out to God for the necessary faith to believe in Jesus. Then receive Him as Lord and Savior, and, in receiving Him, receive life—eternal and abundant.
Second, would you experience this life more deeply? If you know this life, and by the Spirit’s stirring want it more deeply, then continue to trust in Christ and continue to walk with Him in obedient discipleship. Watch His Spirit permeate more deeply and widely in your life, and rejoice in your ever-deepening walk with and enjoyment of the Lord. May we each and all believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and may we, by believing this, having life—abundant, eternal life—in His Name.